A pilgrimage to make a dream come true
Chartered Wealth Solutions clients, Marge and Peter Moodie, both in their mid-sixties, added their footprints to the millions who have walked the Camino de Santiago. In this article, they describe how making this lifetime dream come true has reminded them that we are all pilgrims of life … and that having dreams makes the journey magical!
The Camino is a pilgrimage across the north of Spain and goes back to about 900 AD. We started in France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountain range. The
route over the mountain was used by pilgrims, by the armies of Charlemagne and Napoleon, both invading and retreating, and now by peregrinos like us.
The distance from the pass to Santiago is about 800 kilometres. We walked through forests, along rivers, over mountains, across farmlands and enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. It was time out from the daily routines of life. There was nothing else to do but walk and think and shed the unnecessary baggage that builds up over time.
We used the pilgrim refugios at night – basic shared dormitories, communal kitchens or shared meals. The cost is 6 to 12 euros, and each village has one or more of these places. There we met people of many nationalities, from South Korea to Argentina, Finland to Thailand, United States to Colombia, all walking the Camino.
We’d both had concerns about health before leaving for Spain, but on the walk we felt in better health than we had for months. We walked with people in their seventies who, like us, were doing 20 to 30 kilometres a day.
We had spent just enough time with an online course to pick up a smattering of Spanish, and it helped; our attempts to speak their language always got a welcome from local people. You have to buy food, explain where you are from, and ask your way at times.
The Camino brings people together from around the world and this means a great deal to the Spanish. They recognise the peregrino, seeing his walking stick and backpack with scallop shell, and wave him on, “Hola, buen camino!” A dustman swinging on the back of a passing garbage truck will call out “Buen camino!”
There are plenty of videos about the Camino on YouTube, some good, some not, and there’s a touristy element to it now (selling organised walks), but the lure of the Camino is, as Marge puts it, time to walk with yourself. It’s not organised – you just set out.
We had only 26 days’ leave (walking it takes about 33 days) and so we used bicycles for the last 500 km of footpath or tarmac from Burgos to Santiago. The Camino ends at Santiago cathedral, as it has for countless pilgrims.
The place is busy and noisy, when you really want to be quiet and think about what you’ve done. We were tired but deeply content that together we’d completed something we’d dreamed of for a long time.
We have more dreams…